A minor complaint/request

I’m about halfway through The Barn House and there’s no pictures. On the cover of the book, there is one photograph of the house, and it’s small.

This picture is of the house at its most unflattering. The roof is a blue tarp, the siding is mismatched or removed, windows are partially replaced, etc. etc.

This is an unusual and interesting house, and much of the book describes or concerns its features. In many books these days, the center section consists of glossy pages with pertinent photos. Often these books are biographies, and these center glossy pages are filled with prom photos, or people shaking hands, or other pedestrian things that don’t really further the narrative or provide insight.

The opportunity for illustrative photos in this particular book is very high.

Goddamn it! I want to see the chimney corbeling! I think I’m entitled. I think I have the right. I want to see the cedar flaring by the polish carpenters, and the kingpost.

I want to see pictures of the interior and exterior of the house when it was bought, after demolition, with one or two key features being installed cleverly, and I want to see what it looks like when it is finished. I want to see what the kitchen looked like before it got torn off with a backhoe, and what it looked like afterwards. I would like to be reading a part of the book, and then flip to a photo and say “ahhh, there it is, yes I can see where drilling those joists was quite a hassle. Glad I didn’t have to do that.”

As I write, I can guess why there are no photos. It probably costs a lot more money to put those glossy pages in a book. Would not those photos in the book have been “the right way?”

Can we get them on a web page to enhance reading experience?


I don’t claim you’re going to find an illustration for every detail, but if you go to the blog page for the book at:


… you’ll find a couple additional pictures plus links to an article and video in the *Chicago Sun-Times *that include a lot of past and current views of the house.

Thanks for the link, Ed. I bought the book for my husband as an anniversary gift and he tore through it in 3 days. I’m going to send the link to him so he can enjoy the pics.

Yes. Thanks for the link. I watched the video. Gorgeous results.

The farm I bought in '93 had a house built in 1787. At the time I didn’t appreciate it but the the former owner was more or less a man after the spirit of the book. Everything was done perfectly.

A week before we settled we were looking at some of the appliances and furniture he had for sale, and there was a backhoe in the yard digging up the pipe to carriage house. Apparently there had been a leak and he wanted to replace it before he sold it to us, so that everything was as it should be.

The house I live in now is a different story. It was built in the 1960s, to a very high standard. 7 years before we bought it an addition was put on. Apparently the owner had felt a great way to save money was to fire contractors halfway through and do the finishing himself. The upstairs was one single open space (no interior walls,) and he did the roofing himself, except he forgot to put in ventilation, so from exterior to interior it went: Shingles, tar paper, plywood, insulation between joists, ceiling drywall. The heat rotted the whole thing after we’d been there for 2 years. The whole top of the house needed to be replaced, including joists and rafters. It was about that time that the contractor started suggesting an engineer. Turns out that the interior walls that were ommitted were bearing walls. In order to make things safe we had to a steel pillar installed from the peak of the roof straight down through the 2nd floor, and through the first floor. A portion of the concrete pad had to be jackhammered away, and a hole dug in the middle of the living room, so that this pillar could have a proper support poured. Than a steel I-beam was installed on top of that to support the roof span. To stop the walls from falling outwards during the operation a 40 foot steel pole was installed betweeen them just below the slope of the ceiling.

The house was supposedly wired for cable, but we couldn’t make it work anywhere except in one room. There were outlets everywhere, but they were all dead. I must have spent hours every night for two searching for the mythical junction box where they met. Finally, through sheer persistence of effort I deduced that it simply had to be in this one area of this one wall. I had determined I would just have to cut into the drywall and start poking around until I found it. While running my stud finder over the walls, I noticed a soft spot in the wallpaper. “No way,” I thought. Sure enough it didn’t seem as if there was anything behind it. I cut through the wallpaper with an Xacto knife and there was the junction! He’d just wallpapered over it.

In the kitchen he’d run the wiring for the ceiling lights up through the ceiling, over the top of the house and then put the iceshield and shingles over that. While that’s an elegant solution for avoiding running wire through joists, it didn’t exactly give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

My most interesting experience was when we remodelled the kitchen. We had a huge island planned, with granite countertops. My very laid back contractor got nervous as hell about three days before the template was to be made. “Template man is coming,” he said. “We only have him for the one afternoon, and if he doesn’t like what he sees, he’ll just leave. He’s that kind of guy.”

It didn’t seem like that big a deal to me, until I understand that they were going to cut $10,000 worth of Dakota Mahogany granite based on this template of the counters drawn by template man, and it was important that it be perfect the first time since you just couldn’t uncut it once you’d cut it. Apparently, this guy was a legend. Anyway, Template Man showed up, a big fat guy in a dirty shirt. He stared at the cabinetry for a few minutes and then started to cut up some cardboard (each piece of which was apparently the exact same size as a standard granite slab.) He did this freehand, without measuring anything, and then put them on top of the cabinetry one by one. I’ll be damned if every single one didn’t fit perfectly. Cutouts for the sinks, faucets, disposal control, water filter, cooktop, every angle and every seem was perfect.

It was just about the most impressive thing I’d ever seen. We have about an acre of granite (three slabs.) The templates took him less than an hour.
I thought about that when I noticed your nice (corian?) countertops on a similar island.
More pics por favour?

arrgh. Locked out of edit.

Dakota Mahogany granite? The quarry for that is about three miles from where I grew up - way back when the only use for it was gravestones (the cemetaries there are beautiful).

I’m trying to talk to my wife about using it since I’m fond of it, but she thinks it’d be too dark. Are you satisfied with it? What are the colors of your flooring and cabinets and wall? Thanks!

The room is all wood. Pine ceilings, maple floors, maple cabinets, pine walls. The ceilings and floors are lighter (no stain on ceiling, just natural aging. The maple floors match maybe half a shade lighter. Walls and cabinetry are darker.

It’s a big room, w/four ceiling fans each with four lights. Directly over the granite is a track with halogen lighting.

It’s not too dark. It might be without the halogen lighting. The granite’s great. Very strong, non porous. Holds its seal. Shines up easy. Impossible (or close) too stain.

No regrets, would do that again.

It looks really nice with stainless steel appliances.